Cumbria Action for Health

Conference 2014
26 November 2014 at Rheged, Penrith

126 people attended the Cumbria Action for Health Network conference which was ably chaired by John Brown. There was a great mix of art and culture providers, health and care specialists and public sector colleagues. The morning showcased how art and culture can effectively deliver adult social care and health outcomes – from improving mental health and wellbeing and empowering people to take a greater part in their local community to increasing mobility and tackling stigma and discrimination.

Lucie Stephens from the New Economics Foundation talked about the work they’ve been doing to make commissioners more aware of arts and cultural providers and their value in delivering social outcomes, and ensuring that arts and culture organisations have better skills and understanding to engage with commissioning and that they better understand how to produce high quality work in a public service context.

Catherine Coulthard and Ali McGraw from Prism Arts presented some brilliant case studies of third sector art and culture based health and care interventions happening at the moment, including Prism Arts, New Arts North, Theatre by the Lake and the Ashton group.

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Discussion groups identified key points that included the vast amount of brilliant work being done across Cumbria around art and culture, the challenge of providing transport to these activities and the importance of ensuring that the Cumbria Support Directory captures everything that is available across the county. We heard from Peter Knock, Service Development Manager at Cumbria County Council’s Adult Social Care Directorate, about the use of individual service funds to deliver personalised social care, and how this presents opportunities for third sector organisations that provide different types of activity and support that are not commissioned through larger Adult Social Care Framework contracts. Web link to the support directory http://www.cumbriasupportdirectory.org.uk/kb5/cumbria/asch/home.page

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Pictured: Colin Cox, Alison Marshall,  John Brown and Richard Parry

In the afternoon we heard from Professor Alison Marshall from the University of Cumbria, telling us about the Cumbria Rural Health Forum, currently focusing on Telecare and Teleheath – and the benefits of using these methods of delivery in rural areas. They have recently launched their website http://www.ruralhealthlink.co.uk/ and are developing a Cumbria Strategy for Digital Technologies in Health and Social Care.

We also heard from Richard Parry, the outgoing Corporate Director for Health and Care Services, and from Colin Cox, Assistant Director, Health and Wellbeing/Director of Public Health. Richard told us about the budgetary challenges Cumbria County Council faces, balancing the priorities for the general public – such as the conditions of roads, open libraries and waste facilities with the care needs of vulnerable people living in Cumbria. The three main areas of work are doing more with less, avoiding and reducing delays and joining up/integrating with NHS services.

Initiatives such as the Neighbourhood Care Independence programme are examples of how Cumbria County Council is funding non statutory preventative services to save money in the longer term (reducing the pressure on higher intensity/more expensive care).

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Pictured: John Brown and Colin Cox

Colin Cox gave us a picture of what public health interventions would look like in the future, with more community based, holistic facilities available. Colin explained the evolution of public health – starting with sanitary reform, followed by the rise of scientific medicine – hospitals, health services then moving to a welfare state and establishing the NHS. The fourth wave focused on risk factors and lifestyles and behaviours and emerging concerns about inequalities and he spoke of a ‘fifth wave’ of public health where people are being encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, to consider their own internal culture and increasing self awareness, saying that in order to tackle health inequalities we need to provide services that everyone can access but that those who need them more can access more frequently.

Feedback from delegates suggests the opportunity to bring along displays and network with other organisations was very highly valued. We had about 35 organisations sharing their work, filling the gallery area at Rheged, beginning new partnerships, swapping ideas and showcasing what a vibrant third sector we have here in Cumbria.

A big thank you to all of you who came along and made the conference extra special!

Jozi Brown
Senior Engagement Officer